While debarking guests in Galveston, Texas on Friday, January 5, 2024, strong winds caused Norwegian Prima to break her mooring lines, causing a temporary closure of the gangways and delaying ship operations.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and the ship has been able to depart on her next sailing with what appears to only be a slight delay.
Norwegian Prima Breaks Mooring Lines
While Norwegian Prima was docked in Galveston, Texas and debarking from her most recent sailing, strong wind gusts caused the vessel to break her mooring lines.
The ship had just finished a 7-night cruise with visits to Costa Maya, Harvest Caye, Roatan, and Cozumel. That cruise had departed on Friday, December 29, 2023.
The strong weather included wind gusts recorded as high as 47 miles per hour (76 kilometers per hour), conditions strong enough to put too much stress on the lines holding the 143,535-gross-ton vessel. At least one mooring line snapped, which could be dangerous if the line had ricocheted toward dock workers.
Fortunately, most workers had already taken shelter and were far enough from the incident to remain safe. The ship did not break completely free, and was quickly re-secured. When any lines break, a large ship will be drifting somewhat loosely, which can be a dangerous situation.
The incident happened at approximately 7 a.m., just as debarkation began. Some guests had already left the ship safely, but debarkation was halted immediately to ensure everyone’s safety.
Norwegian Prima has 20 total decks (16 accessible to guests), giving her an exceptionally tall profile that can be more susceptible to strong winds and gusts than smaller, more compact ships.
Because of the strong weather, debarkation was temporarily suspended, a delay that extended to approximately two hours. This was due to the breaking of several lines, as well as damage to one gangway used for debarkation.
“We would like to thank you for your patience this morning and have a safe trip home, thank you,” the ship’s captain announced while explaining the situation during the delay.
The debarkation delay also had a slight knock-on effect for the following embarkation. The impact was minimal, however, considering how the situation could have evolved if the damage had been more severe.
Instead, the ship has already been able to depart on her next sailing, another 7-night voyage visiting the same ports of call as her previous sailing. Norwegian Prima is offering the same itinerary each week through early April.
On April 5, the ship will depart Galveston for the last time on an 11-night, one-way repositioning sailing to Miami, and from there, to New York. After New York, the ship will move to Southampton, where she will begin her summer season in Europe, offering alternating departures from Southampton, UK and Reykjavik, Iceland.
Not a First Mooring Break for Norwegian Prima
Interestingly, this is not the first time Norwegian Prima has broken free of her mooring lines. A similar incident happened in July 2023 while the ship was docked in Zeebrugge, Belgium.
That stop was a port of call visit and the breakaway was also a result of strong winds that pushed on the vessel. During that incident, both forward and aft gangways dropping into the water as the ship drifted, though no injuries were reported and the ship’s overall itinerary was not impacted.
With the same ship experiencing two similar unfortunate events in less than six months, it may seem to be a design flaw of the Prima class that the vessel could break lines with such frequency. Most cruise ships enjoy many years of service without a single such incident.
This is not necessarily a flaw, however, as it is more likely for larger ships to experience line breaks in foul weather, especially with severe wind gusts. It is simply bad luck that Norwegian Prima has been twice affected by the unique conditions that can cause such incidents.
At the same time, it is a credit to the ship’s crew as well as local dock personnel that in neither case were any severe injuries reported, and the ship was able to be re-secured and continue operations relatively promptly when the weather permitted.